North Allegheny bests rival Seneca Valley to win WPIAL AAAA title
North Allegheny starter Mitch Machi believed his pitches weren't the sharpest, but insisted he still had his best stuff.
That “stuff” would be NA's defense.
“That makes a huge difference. I'm so lucky to have a great infield and a great outfield making all of the plays for me,” said Machi, whose Tigers played error free behind him and turned two double plays to beat section rival Seneca Valley for the first time in seven tries with a 4-2 victory Wednesday night in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship.
The victory kept the two-time defending champion from adding a third consecutive crown. It also ended the Raiders' six-game winning streak against North Allegheny.
A few Seneca Valley miscues were costly.
“Typically, between us and them it's going to be close,” NA coach Andy Maddix said, “and whoever is better on that day is going to get it.”
The first two meetings this season were 3-2 victories by Seneca Valley.
Machi (7-0) allowed just four hits, including only two in the first six innings, to win his third start this postseason. He recorded 19 outs, but none were strikeouts.
Seneca Valley was trying to become the first WPIAL team to win three consecutive Class AAAA titles since the largest classification was added in 2005. Among all classes, only Pine-Richland (2004-06) and Allegheny High School (1917-22) of the North Side had ever won three straight.
Seneca Valley took a 1-0 lead in the second when Carson Kessler hit a leadoff double, reached third on Gianpaul Gonzalez's sacrifice bunt and scored on Zach Spangler's sacrifice fly to center.
North Allegheny scored twice in the bottom of the second and twice more in the fifth, helped along by Seneca Valley miscues.
In the second, NA right fielder Sean Fitzgerald and designated hitter Zach Woloszky each hit two-out singles. Machi loaded the bases when his swinging third strike bounced away from Seneca Valley catcher Brad Gresock and Machi beat the throw to first. With the bases loaded, Seneca Valley starter Connor Coward walked Brandon Bergstrom, forcing home Fitzgerald. A balk by Coward one batter later allowed Woloszky to also score.
In the fifth, North Allegheny used two sacrifice bunts to score. Bergstrom hit a leadoff double and James Meeker reached on an failed fielder's choice. A sacrifice bunt by Matt Waugaman allowed Bergstrom to score when Gresock's throw sailed into right field. A sacrifice bunt by Jimmy Divosevic scored Meeker.
Seneca Valley added a run in the sixth when center fielder Jonathan Dorogy walked, advanced two bases on a wild pitch, and scored on a groundout by Gresock. The Raiders tried to rally in the seventh with a pair of one-out singles, but NA reliever Jason Monper struck out both batters he faced to claim the victory.
Coward, who hadn't surrendered a postseason run, allowed four runs and five hits in five innings. The junior right-hander struck out seven and walked three.